Fact-check: BBC article transforms link between black fungus and cow’s urine

A screenshot of an alleged BBC article titled ‘Black fungus: Indian scientist finds link to cow urine 9,000 rare infection cases [sic]’circulates widely on WhatsApp. The byline says it was written by Soutik Biswas.

The screenshot is massively viral on Facebook. Alt News found at least 99 such articles.

It was also shared on Twitter.

Morpheus screenshot

We performed a Google search limiting the results to the BBC website and found that no such article was available. Additionally, the title contains grammatical errors, which is unusual for an international English-language media organization.

“This is a false message. We urge the public to visit our website bbc.com/news, ”the BBC spokesperson told Alt News.

On May 9, the BBC published an article on black fungi written by Soutik Biswas. The article said that “Mucormycosis is a very rare infection. It is caused by exposure to mucoral mold which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and rotting fruits and vegetables. Doctors believe that mucormycosis, which has an overall death rate of 50%, can be triggered by the use of steroids, a life-saving treatment for patients with severe and seriously ill Covid-19 ”.

The following image compares the viral screenshot with a screenshot of the genuine BBC article. We noticed that 1) the title font is different; 2) there is no author’s picture icon; 3) The line between the article and the title is darker in the viral screenshot.

In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, several BJP leaders continue to recommend unscientific treatments, including cow urine, as a cure for COVID-19. Recently, BJP MP Surendra Singh and BJP MP Pragya Thakur made headlines for recommending the same. In the past, cow’s urine has been recommended as a remedy for cancer. Dr Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic told a media organization in 2009: “I think I am perfectly comfortable saying that I am not aware of any data that cow urine – or l urine of any other kind – shows promise… for treating or preventing cancer. There is no peer-reviewed study that infers cow urine as an effective treatment for disease.

A spoofed screenshot from the BBC website was shared to falsely claim the outlet wrote an article titled ‘Black fungus: Indian scientist finds link to cow urine 9,000 cases of rare infection ”.


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